You made the decision to leave your home country and move abroad. Getting there could have entailed making lists of pros and cons, discussing with your family and friends, talking to people who have done it before and doing research about the country where you wanted to move. Such a change brings with it several intense feelings ranging from excitement, to being scared or anxious. The experience of moving is described as one of the most stressful situations across a lifetime (Godfrey, 2016).
There are a few things to consider when moving abroad, let’s start with some practical aspects. When you arrive at the new country, buy a local SIM card. This will give you access to the internet where you can keep in contact with your loved ones and get some support from them if you feel overwhelmed. It will also be useful if you need to do some research or use Google Maps to find your way around. Another important practical aspect is to set up a bank account. Banks can request proof of address before allowing you to open a bank account thus, you may need to sort out where you will be living first.
Psychologically, it would be helpful if you could go and visit the country before moving. This will help you to visualise the area where you will be spending a lot of time such as, the University campus or work setting. If you will be renting a place where to stay, it would also be better to see it in person rather than on the internet. Once you have moved in, try to make the place your own so that it starts feeling like home. Do this by decorating it with things that you like and perhaps putting some pictures of your loved ones.
The idea of moving abroad can be very exciting especially if you have been wanting to do it for a while. If you’ll be living on your own for the first time, you may be looking forward to having some independence. Meeting new people and making new friends can also be very exciting. However, moving abroad can also present with several challenges, especially if you are shy or an introvert, since you might struggle to approach new people or to ask for help.
Building a new network will help you to start developing a sense of belonging. Starting a new job or a university course is a great way to meet new people. You will need to push yourself and get out of the comfort zone by for example asking your course mates if they want to hang out during the weekend. You can also try to find ways to be part of the community. You can find a club e.g. sports club or drama group that you can join where you will be able to meet people from the same community that you are living in.
Most individuals will experience some level of stress when relocating. People develop different coping strategies to help them adjust to the changes they go through. Although the first few days can be difficult, do not give up and allow yourself time to adjust to all the changes you are going through. Do not isolate yourself, talk to your loved ones and if need be, seek professional help.
Godfrey, S. (2016). The emotional impact of moving. Retrieved from http://www.movingmindsets.com.au/emotional-impact-moving-sarah-godfrey/
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.